“Mansplaining” has entered the mainstream lexicon, filling a need to define the male habit of indulging in slow and patient explanations to women because of the extra effort required to help us overcome our intellectual challenges. If we protest that we already know the information, well then, maybe we need to hear it again, clearly and well-enunciated, so that the lesson is reinforced. If it’s new to us, men really slow it down and are extremely patient, so that it stands an almost 50% chance of sinking in.
Mansplaining has a sibling called “hepeating,” which occurs when a woman voices an idea at work, and everyone shrugs it off. A little while later a man appropriates the idea (aka steals it), repeats it, and this time everybody loves it. It is true that the more we hear something, the easier it is for us to accept, but only a controlled experiment comparing results depending on which sex said it first would convince me that this phenomenon is sex-neutral.
Consider the verb to “mansist,” which means to resist information communicated by a woman. Closely related to “hepeating,” this condition appears to be a co-morbidity, or a retrograde inversion, or a corollary, or whatever you want to call it, of mansplaining. “Mansisting” differs from “hepeating” in that the information consists of established, verified facts in a peer-reviewed journal or a news publication. It can also be a woman’s original idea that a man subsequently steals, but in either case, the man aggressively, or passive-aggressively, resists it. Mansisting occurs frequently in romantic relationships.
Not all men are mansistors. In fact, a mansister (note the homonym) can refer to a man with sisters who, seemingly resulting from a genetic mutation, has discovered that women are not necessarily idiots. This cohort appears to be at risk of disappearing in the current Sixth Mass Extinction.
A mansistor also should not to be confused with a transistor, although they rhyme, or a scientist who works on them, such as Michelle Simmons, a quantum physicist who led the team that developed a single-atom transistor and who no doubt has much first-hand experience with mansplaining, hepeating and mansisting.
Resistance to information from women has come naturally to men for centuries and has been known to create sparks, which is why the unit of electrical resistance is an ohm, which has the same pronunciation as “homme,” which is French for man. France’s national emblem of a crowing cock was adopted by men’s groups worldwide shortly after Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, although social media experts in the time of Charlemagne insisted they substitute the original icons with images more suitable for family viewing. The Walloon portion of Belgium then adopted as its emblem the so-called “coq hardi,” or bold rooster (right).
Lastly, the French expression Vive La Résistance spread like wildfire not because it is a call to arms for freedom from oppression by tyrants, as is assumed widely, but instead for freedom from the heavy yoke of hearing ideas, information or opinions expressed by women.
My personal experience of mansisting within romantic relationships has mostly concerned health. More than 30 years ago I told BabyDaddy that my hunger pangs lessened when I exercised. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the effect of exercise on insulin sensitivity, but I knew that when I ran twice around the reservoir in Central Park my appetite dwindled. For months, BabyDaddy argued that I was wrong because everyone knows that exercise whets hunger. I was mansisted.
My relationship with BabyDaddy ended, but he stayed in our child’s life, and both he and I joined in maligning my middle-aged weight gain. “Look what Mommy has done to herself,” he would sigh, all the while refusing to join me in sports or healthy meal preparation. “Look how fat I am,” I would sigh to the mirror several times a day.
My next Significant Other also wanted me to lose weight, but after some half-hearted attempts he bowed out of any exercise whatsoever and refused to try the meal plans I proposed, even though they were designed primarily to help with his health problems. “The blob,” he called me behind my back. “You’re full of doodle-dee-doo,” he mansisted when I researched his ailments on PubMed. Much mirth ensued from a relative’s cell phone ringtone of a cracking whip meant to bemoan the plight of the pussy-whipped man. Lastly, when I voiced a plan to photograph myself as I embarked on a weight loss program, he replied, “You’re going to need a wide-angle lens for that.”
Not surprisingly, that relationship didn’t last either.
Recently, I’ve lost 50 lbs. through a combination of vegan, low-carb and ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting. I took to online dating sites, and men reached out. Last month I met someone promising. Our education, interests, ethics and values were in perfect alignment, and as for externals, he was tall, rich and handsome. My heart beat faster.
The New Prospect was upfront that he was interested, but only if I continued to lose weight. Okay, I thought, men think from below the belt, so I won’t fight nature. But I have some requirements of my own, and on our second date, I ventured that I want a man who’ll be around for several decades and whose dick gets hard three or four times a week without resorting to a pill. In other words, a man who takes care of his health and lacks disease markers such as elevated sugar readings, which carry a risk of atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, stroke, heart attack, cancer, or ED. He was taken aback, but since these modern day chronic afflictions may be prevented and even reversed with proper diet and lifestyle, he said he was willing to consider my ideas.
Emails followed with the names of doctors and scientists whose clips and podcasts I listen to and who have books and articles in peer-reviewed journals. But this man has a difficult relationship with his mother, a long-time vegan who at age 95 still marches for animal rights, and woe to anyone who disagrees. I must have set up a Mommy issue around food, because he mansisted. He didn’t read, listen to or watch anything I sent. Instead, he emailed me a peer reviewed article asserting that a ketogenic diet could (could!) be dangerous and told me I didn’t know what I was getting into if I was going to try to cook for him. There were other signs, too, pertaining to exploitative behavior with women. (See Condition Number 5, Does He Take Pride in Bad Behavior from His Youth? toward the bottom of this Checklist.)
My heart fell back to earth before it even soared.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, but it gives me no satisfaction that these three men either 1. are in a wheelchair or 2. have had a stent put in or 3. have recovered from a full-blown heart attack. As for me, my latest numbers were Total Cholesterol 136, LDL 73, Triglycerides also 73, and Fasting Blood Sugar 69. No insulin resistance or atherosclerosis here, at least at present. As I write this article, I am on Day Five of a water fast, hoping that autophagy will kick in to scavenge any stray cancer cells or Alzheimer proteins that accumulated consequent to a long-ago daily pint of ice cream habit.
BabyDaddy, Significant Other and New Prospect are the ultimate victims of their mansisting, but that is cold comfort, and I would much prefer they had read the fourth among The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver. “Let Your Partner Influence You” is the title of that chapter. “Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct,” they conclude. This principle is about letting one partner’s opinions and feelings influence the other’s decision-making, and women overwhelmingly do that, while too often, men do not. Men who allow themselves to be influenced by their wives have developed more emotional intelligence, says Gottman. These are the open-minded men who are able, on occasion, to yield. This finding was mocked (“Anything You Say, Dear”) on Saturday Night Live and by personalities as politically diverse as Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher, which shows today’s sweeping cultural discomfort among men with the idea of giving women an equal voice.
New Prospect’s intellectual magnetism and worldview were reeling me in, and if the Gottman book hadn’t alerted me to the problem of men not allowing influence from a woman, he would have had me hooked. “You dodged a bullet,” a friend told me. Of course, I’ve always sensed these things, but it took the book to articulate it for me and bring it to the forefront of my consciousness. I thank the authors from the bottom of my heart.
(In reality, BD, SO and NP are not the only victims of their mansisting. Also suffering the consequences is the American public, which pays through taxes for the health costs of people who refuse to engage in self-care and which also suffers from the dearth of quality of life services from which this money is diverted. But that’s an issue for another website, not this one.)
If these health-challenged guys didn’t take my word, they could have listened to podcasts or Youtube clips or read books or scholarly articles by the likes of Jason Fung, Joel Fuhrman, Rhonda Patrick, Michael Greger and Thomas Seyfried, to name a few of the scientists and doctors who have inspired my renewed push for health and weight loss. But all three ignored or even derided my information.
Perhaps I was so accustomed to mansplaining, hepeating, mansisting and, in my sylph-like youth, men at the office who patted my ass or ogled my breasts or invited me to their hotel rooms to discuss promotions that I learned to brush it off.
The other day I called my daughter to read her a draft of this piece. I expected at least one or two chuckles from the other end. Instead, there was a long silence, and then she said, “Mom, I deal with this every day. You’re 64 and you’re just figuring this out?”
PostScript: I submitted the word Mansisting to UrbanDictionary, but their editors turned it down. Another word of mine is on file with them, so obviously I’m capable of meeting their criteria. Can’t help but wonder how many of their “editors” are male.